Below is a copy of my presentation to council. On the 22nd three people spoke all opposed to the Height increase in the New Zoning Bylaw. The outcome was that council approved the amendment and actually added a few more of the single family zones. The public hearing is set for September 8th.
More to follow in the next couple of days.
Presentation to Council
August 22, 2011
Tonight I am speaking in support of the three Council Directed Amendments to City of Nanaimo Zoning Bylaw 2011 No. 4500
With regards to height; this is one of those properties that I believe would allow for greater height and density with minimal impact on the surrounding area. The fact that the property immediately across the highway and subject of the 2nd amendment, 150 Comox Rd., allowed at one point I believe 26 stories and # 1 Terminal Avenue was limited to approximately six stories has always struck me as not making sense.
Many people will be overjoyed with this amendment seeing the return of 150 Comox Avenue to park designation though personally I would like to see some stronger means of ensuring it remains a part of Maffeo Sutton Park in perpetuity.
While far less complex than the previous zoning bylaw, Zoning Bylaw 2011 No. 4500 is still a complicated document. To believe that a few public open houses constitutes significant discussion especially since that significance would have been even less had not an open house been scheduled in Chase River is inaccurate. Those of us that are aware know just how few people tend to show up for these open houses.
Admittedly, in regards to the South End Community Association, we were more informed as our recent neighbourhood plan involved discussion, beyond the public open house, on a number of occasions with City staff regarding the new zoning bylaw. That said, and despite me knowing far more about zoning than I ever thought I would, average citizens are not experts and cannot be expected to be aware of everything within the document.
A simple illustration of the depth and complexity of the bylaw are the revisions, “to correct minor errors within the newly adopted bylaw,” coming up next on councils agenda. If minor errors can be made by those whose job it is to create the bylaw then it is not safe to assume that communication through the open house process will in any way adequately inform the public.
I ask do council and staff really believe the one open house regarding the water treatment plant to be significant discussion with the citizens of Nanaimo on that subject.
Last week I became aware of an e-mail that was circulating encouraging the development community to lobby council to retain the proposed new 9m height designation for R1/R1a zones. As chair of the Nanaimo Neighbourhood Network, and in an effort to bring even more discussion to the issue, I thought it imperative that Nanaimo’s existing neighbourhoods become aware of this and if they so choose lobby council in support of the amendment to, “ensure that the maximum allowable building height within these zones is the same as what was previously permitted.”
Don’t get me wrong, I do not oppose development in general but do believe that in existing neighbourhoods it fit with the form and character of those neighbourhoods. I believe the existing development variance process will serve those needs by allowing neighbourhoods say in the choice of whether to approve or disapprove.
In the realm of communication we all need to look for ways to better encourage citizen participation and awareness.